As I sit here writing, there is rain falling outside in the dark and it sounds beautiful. The window is open next to me, I have on an old Texas Wesleyan University hoodie to keep warm against the cold air that occasionally wafts in. The breathtaking silence that envelopes me amidst the rain drops is a soothing balm to my very exhausted soul.
Everything would be perfect right now if it weren’t for the fact that my house is in such a state of disarray I can feel my blood pressure rising in exponential digits.
I look around the living room three feet deep with toys, papers, and who knows what then my eyes travel to the kitchen which has a sink full of dishes and counters covered in yet more papers, dishes and clutter. I think about our main bathroom which needs to be swept, mopped, and basically cleaned from ceiling to floor. My daughters’ room can barely be walked in and I’m fairly certain all the clothing we’ve ever owned is sitting in laundry baskets that are making an encroaching war-like circle around my bed.
Why is it like this?
Because I’m the only one that cleans despite living in a house with three other people.
My husband works 50-plus hours a week, Monday to Friday. Every Saturday my father comes over and they work all day together in the yard. His only true day off is Sunday, and he spends it sleeping or doing nothing. We bought our first house this summer and it needs some renovations and a major overhaul in the half-acre yard, as it was vacant for two years. There is truly a lot of work, even if I do think at times he drags certain jobs out longer than they need to be so he can stay outside.
My two daughters are autistic and present their own challenges that I must work around daily.
So the house work falls all on me. I was handling it, but then I began working and my PTA duties increased drastically; we had the school carnival to plan. My routine, ordered life became completely upended in the last two weeks.
I’ve repeatedly had to not finish a job I was assigned for the PTA or my actual job or give up sleep in order to find time to make a dent in the housework nightmare, only to have my family destroy the hard work within a matter of hours and make me feel like I let down my boss, coworkers and fellow PTA moms for no good reason.
So today, as I surveyed the fiasco that is our house and let my mother’s disappointed words flow through my brain (she made an unannounced visit to our house earlier today while I was at work, and my husband let her in and she saw the mess first-hand), I decided to go on a mini-strike. I was not going to put aside the work that makes me feel good about myself just to pick up after three other people who are going to destroy my work and ultimately waste my time.
Here’s the problem, though: When I get done writing, I’ll do exactly that.
I allowed myself that moment of “I HATE MY FAMILY FOR THIS!” anger because it’s justified. Just because I don’t receive a paycheck for the time I put in to do the dishes, laundry, clean floors, rooms, etc., doesn’t mean my time and effort are meaningless. Yes, we all know laundry, dishes and cleaning are part of a never-ending cycle, but that doesn’t mean the act of doing it should be taken for granted. Because when you don’t get it done, then your home looks like a prelim to a Hoarders episode.
Everyone is allowed to feel angry; it’s a normal condition of being a human and living with other people. To pretend you don’t get angry or that it’s wrong is what causes people to fall into depression and other negative mental health traps. You can NOT bottle up all those negative feelings forever. Sooner or later, they will explode and it will not be pretty.
The best advice I ever heard about hate and family came from Season 8 of the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. Laugh all you want or shake your head at my idiocy, but there is a good point to be made.
In the scene Robert and Amy are newly married and they are driving Ray and Debra crazy by giving out marriage advice. Sick of the bickering Ray’s mother Marie jumps in to tell it how it is:
Image: Warner Bros. Studios.
You want some real marriage advice?
I’m going to give you the secret now:
There’s going to be yelling.
There’s going to be anger.
Don’t fight it — accept it.
You love him. You hate him.
He disgusts you– look how he eats.
You keep your head down, and you plow through.
But Marie, you said “hate –“
how can hate have any place in a marriage?
You make room.
There’s going to be hate. Hate is real.
Marriage is real.
That’s the truth. Just as we love our families, we are going to have times when we hate them. We hate the messes they make, the wasted time of having to clean up the same mess a million times, the arguments, the unclean house, etc. But we also love the hugs, the times we do get appreciated, the smiles, and just knowing someone loves us and that we aren’t alone.
Acknowledge the hate then let it go and move on. Take a deep breath, grab a glass of wine, turn on music that adds a bit of salsa into your step, then break out the cleaning supplies and plow through the mess.
Originally Published for SheKnows: